Thursday, November 24, 2005

A history of the BC quiz club - V

Sancho joins in our series of articles on BC quizzing through the years with some reminiscences from '93 to '98. The previous articles on the topic are at: 1, 2, 3(All by Shrirang), 4 (Vishal Dalal)

I joined COEP in October 93. Ours was the year there was a series of court cases which meant that college started very late. Admissions happened on 27th sep and we started off on october 4th.

For my first three sems there seemed to be no quizzing going on for practical purposes. I know today that COEP was active in quizzing circles at that time with people like Srirang, Maya, Karve, Vishal, etc but i as a new comer simply did not know that they existed. I had quizzed a bit in school but had stopped totally in the 11th and 12th. i got to know first of quizzing when Akshaya, my batchmate, mentioned in passing that he had gone to AFMC for a quiz (he probably heard from Maya, his elder sister). At that time quizzing was, i guess, a very small clique which no one,outside of the clique had any real idea about. So, i missed out on a year to a year and a half of quizzing.

The first awareness of quizzing came in my fourth sem when Vishal Dalal put up a notice that there would be a quiz on the BC lawns, sometime in jan 95 on saturday at 12.30. I had just dropped into BC for my customary "special chai" after the day was over (college being from 8 to 12 on saturdays). I saw the notice and went over. Since i hadn't quizzed for almost four years i was not very sure how good i would be. I teamed up with akshaya and sat for the quiz which Vishal and Anand Arvindanan had set. We managed to come second, so i thought not too bad. It was also my first meeting with people like Shrirang and Karve.

The important thing was that at the end of the quiz, after the usual round of good shows, somebody suggested that someone should do the quiz for the next week. Akshaya volunteered and i said that i would help him out.That was really the first time i was to be conducting a quiz, BC or otherwise, and would be the QM. On hindsight, not really :) The original plan was for us to share the questions 40: 60 between us. I had formed my set of questions and handed it over to Akshaya on thursday or friday ( i don't remember why, probably because i was, at that time, not sure if i would make it on saturday). Now Akshaya realized that a number of my questions were actually questions already asked in intercollege quizzes the last year. So, he, quite rightly, got rid of a number of them. Since those were the days before cell phones, he couldn't let me know of that. So, when i turned up on saturday it was more like 15:85 than 40:60. So,he asked all the questions and i kept score. However, importantly, I think this was the first time I met Niranjan, who was down in India, on chutti from his MS At the end of that quiz, if i remember correctly, Anand agreed to do the quiz the next week and after that it was more or less a weekly affair for sure.

On the inter collegiate front - well, with so many people from COEP and with a general restriction on two teams from a college, those days, i didn't get through to any finals that year. Still, i was yet a novice in those days, i guess. I remember a BJMC quiz which i had gone to with Vishal- it was my first intercollegiate quiz. The first team in the elims was at 14, the second at 13 and we were third at 12.5. Just our luck that the other two teams were also from COEP (Maya- Shrirang and Karve-Anand if i remember... or was it Karve- Akshaya). Vishal had quite an argument with the organizers because we believed that we should have got at least 15. While i still believe that we were distinctly unfortunate there - well, the QM's decision is final. I remember Vishal was so pained that he left without watching the finals. It was also the first time i went to shyambhatt (which was always on feb 26th those days, i don't know why it changed. Can anyone clue me in on that) and got introduced to infinite rebound. Though it seems to be the standard nowadays, it was the first time i had come across it. Initially, for the first couple of rounds, it seemed vague but soon caught on to it. It's by far the best way i have come across of conducting a quiz. Srirang, Maya and Aniruddha came in second there, with i think an AFMc team winning.

While i didn't do great at intercollegiate quizzes that year, i did okay within college. There was a "gathering" quiz on film and entertainment which JV had organized and Maya and i managed to win that for E&TC. The quiz was a strong reminder of how the person who sets the questions should also conduct the quiz. Also on the value of the good handwriting :) We almost lost out, wrongly, because of that. Basically JV and a friend (i forget the name - Nagaraj, i think. Let's stick to that for now) had set the quiz - JV doing more of the hindi film bits and Nagaraj doing more of the english film bits. The elims (written) and the finals were on different days - i don't know why. However, between the two, JV fell ill (chicken pox, was it?). So, for the finals Nagaraj used JV's handwritten q and a's. The quiz was conducted in the evening after classes, so it carried on to almost 8 or 9 pm, and was on the steps, not on the lawns. Now there was a direct q to us on which was LP's first film and the year. I knew the film and also knew that LP's second film was Dosti for which they won the filmfare award for 1964. So i gave the answer "Parasmani" and guessed 1963. It was passed and people started guessing, Parasmani, 64- Parasmani, 65 - Parasmani 61 and so on. Thankfully, it passed off without a right answer and we got half marks. The answer given was Parasmani '69. As QM's decision is final that was that. At the end of the quiz we ended up tied (with mechanical, if i remember) and it went to tie break. I don't remember the q but Maya got it and we won. As was normal we adjourned for some chai. It was then when Nagaraj came back to the seating area in the BC that he saw JV's handwriting in better light and realized that it was 63 and not 69. Thankfully, we had won so neither Maya nor i got very worked up. Still, almost a miscarriage of justice :) However, probably the most memorable incident that year was Aniruddha being told of his admission in the US in the mid of one of the Saturday quizzes. I remember, right in the middle of a question, he went whooping and jumping in the middle of the air and some of us thought he had gone mad. Of course, bhajji and chai after that for that afternoon were on him.

In my third year, we decided to start the boat club quizzes in the first sem itself. Srirang, Maya and Karve had left to IIMB, IIT and the USofA respectively. But Niranjan was back after his stint in the USofA. And George and Kunal had joined fresh. I conducted the first quiz of the year and things carried on from there. The coming of George meant that I had someone to ask star trek questions. There are certain pet topics which lend themselves to tremendous trivia. Sherlock holmes is one such thing. Pink floyd is another. I always believed that Star trek - specifically the original tv series- was another such topic. But till George came there was no one to ask these questions to or no one to ask me such questions. That was a major plus, personally (george , q for you- spock's court martial in the menagerie would not be a valid court martial. why?)

Also george's presence and the return of Niranjan meant that there were other people who were good at hindi film and music- especially the old type. I remember i conducted a hindi film quiz in my sixth sem- which may well have been the first time audio clues were asked in a saturday afternoon boat club quiz. It was also the first time, after Nagaraj's quiz I think, that we moved from the lawns to the steps in spite of no rains- mainly because we needed a plug point for the tape recorder (i think that location is the standard nowadays, nahin?) . I had borrowed Anand ramesh's tape recorder from the hostel-he was himself quite disgusted to hear about a "hindi" film and music quiz but i think he had gamely turned up for the quiz. On Niranjan's insistence i had tried to put in a few q's on classical music while keeping it related to hindi film music. Sure enough, Niranjan was the only one who managed to answer those.

On the inter college front - Vishal was in his last year and decided that he had to win things he hadn't won before- so he won both silhouettes and shyam bhat-along with Akshaya and George. While i don't remember other names he generally won any other inter college stuff he went to. He also won a few of the within college quizzes. It was really his year and he quizzed with complete passion, his motto seemingly being "second is nothing". And he generally lived up to it. I made my first final at shyambhat, though i didn't place. But I managed to come in second at silhouettes

Quizzing continued in my fourth year. That year was probably one of the better performances COEP has put up in intercollegiate quizzing. We won just about everything- Shyambhatt, Verve, silhouettes, you name it- some combination of Akshaya, me, George and Kunal managed to win, if we were represented. And if there were two people teams we often ended up with a one-two finish. The high point for me was Shyambhat. For some reason, Akshaya couldn't make it but George, Kunal and I finally won. That felt good- after all , if i remember correctly,even Shrirang had not managed to win Shyambhat, though he had more final appearances than me. I still have the photo of me with the trophy.

Probably the low point of that year's quizing was Verve which was held in COEP that year. Now, people may not know much about quizzing in general but they know of Verve. Also it gets reported in the Indian Express. So people's benchmark of one's quizzing ability is based on how one does in verve. Not that that was a problem. Akshaya and George won and Kunal and I came in second. But to be judged by the population on the basis of such a benchmark is sad. It was a weird quiz with six teams in the final wherein a question would be asked direct for 10 points to a team, say team A. If incorrect, it would be passed to B for 5 points. If still incorrect, the QM would step in very kindly and tell us all the answer (wouldn't want everyone in suspense for so long a time as it would take for six teams to try and answer, would you. There might be people with weak hearts in the audience, after all).Basically, that meant that for every question there were only two teams listening. The others just signed off or talked to each other or whatever. Very weird.

The year was also important because, if i am not mistaken it was the first year when an person outside of COEP started to come regularly -Anand Sivashankar (i except Niranjan). He had, I think come a few times during my TE. But it was in my BE that he became a full fledged regular member and even conducted quizzes at the BC. I guess it was the start of the bcqc becoming more widespread. I think it was also the year that AIT started being more regular on the quizzing circuit - I think Kapil Dahiya had started quizzing that year along with a couple of other guys We had also, i remember, invited the AFMC guys to come over to the BC but they couldn't really make it on saturday afternoons regularly. Still, AFMC was always a force to reckon with in inter college quizzes. I wonder, do they make it nowadays to the BC, with things so much more widespread now.

Of course, after that year i passed out in jun 97. But before that I attended a quiz, somewhere in Symbi. I finally did not participate because GEorge and Kunal had registered as TE students, so technically, i was deemed to have passed out though i hadn't got my marksheet yet. I remember very little of that quiz except for the fact that the elims had some seventy five q's but the final rounds had some thirty odd. I found that really strange which is why i still remember something about it.

But that didn't immediately close my links with pune quizzing. I had been quite exasperated with the verve quiz. One of my batchmates in e&Tc (Sundeep) was fairly high up in eyf those days. I had told him what a horrible quiz they had done and that if they couldn't get anyone better they should get old coepians to do the quiz - i had suggested niranjan's name at that time ( i was still in coep those days, remember). Some sense must have prevailed and they asked me to do the quiz for 98. They were also probably happy that they were getting someone to do it free :)

However, everything can't be that smooth with Verve. I had sent across the questions to them and had also provided material for the audio and video questions. i landed up in Pune only on the day of the elims. I found that the audio and video questions had been completely changed. Why? Well they had lost some of the stuff i had given (What rankles most was the loss of a full recording of "spectre of the gun" an episode of star trek about the gunfight at ok corrall- awesome episode). From what was left they felt there was too much hindi stuff (bound to be; when you lose the english stuff) so they decided to change all of it. Not just add English stuff to my hindi q's but change all of it.

They also refused to let me conduct the quiz. For some reason they wanted one of their people to conduct it. i didn't want to fight too much so i agreed. Then they did not want to have infinite rebounds (this on the morning of the finals, after the elims were over) and wanted a simple direct pass system ("easier for people to understand and for audience to follow, no, Sancho") I had a heated argument on this. I think finally I told them effectively " listen boss, i know a bit of quizzing you don't. it's your quiz- do it the way you want but if you want a good quiz which both audience and teams will enjoy, go for infinite rebound. Otherwise it's your call." Luckily, Sundeep was on my side so he managed to convince the others in EYF to listen to me.

I had asked for some buzzers to be arranged for the quiz- to be used for the triads. Now, the girl who was conducting the quiz, on seeing the buzzers, quite fairly, assumed that there would need to be some type of conventional buzzer round, which she could not find in the questions. So she asked me about it and I explained it to her. Clearly, if she was not comfortable with infinite rebound, triads were not going to be easy- especially the negative marking. Still, she said ok. Before the quiz actually started, just before the teams were to be seated, she asked me to sit along with her at the quizmaster's table. She asked all the q's (and did a fairly decent job, i thought. At times I had to correct her on the infinite rebound but for someone exposed to it for the first time, it was quite a creditable job, i thought). Then we finally came to the triads. She announced the round and then turned to me and said - "why don't you explain this?" After the explanation, she was quite happy for me to keep asking the questions. So, in spite of EYF's discomfort, i did end up conducting at least part of the quiz. I enjoyed it. Hopefully the participants also did. For the record, I think George and Kunal won the quiz (don't remember the third person) with Anand S and team coming in second.

In 1998, I joined IIMA and went of to Ahmedabad. That effectively ended regular contact with the boatclub. I have come back a few times and met Shrirang, Niranjan, George, Kunal again. Also met people like Ramanand. I have met Anand S a few times in Bombay... but it all seems so far away now. I have always maintained that the two high points of my four years in COEP were the punt formation in FE and the study tour in TE. The BCQC never had that sort of bursts of highs in it. But for sheer sustained involvement I don't think it could be matched.

I guess that rounds off my memories of active quizzing at the BC. I cannot claim 100 per cent accuracy in all that i have writen above - it has after all been a long time since i passed out. Many people have been mentioned above and many of them might remember things slightly differently from me. Please do feel free to correct me, if required. If i feel it was not required I shall certainly respond :-) The memories have at times become a little personal also- so it might be more a "Sancho at BCQC" rather than a "BCQC from 93 to 97". My apologies- i hope it will still give others a flavour of what went on during those four years.

Here's to keeping the flame alive
:: Sancho


Ramanand said...

* shyam bhatt: it was on the 26th for couple of my years, but for some reason they started to fiddle around with the dates probably to make it easier for people to come down. These days Brijesh is having a tough time just organising it, so the significance of the date has been forgotten a touch. Not sure what happened and why.

* yes, the steps have become the de facto proxy for the lawns

* Verve: :-)

* AFMC: no, no one except Brijesh comes. I don't even know if there are any quizzers there - we don't see a lot of them.

* Verve 98: The third tenor was Vikram Shirgur

niranjan said...

Wow! Vivid memories considering the age ;))) Made great reading.

Anonymous said...

Oi Sancho -

Vishal here - where are you these days ? Nice article , brought back lots of memories .

I'm at

Kunal Thakar said...

Nice article!

Admissions happened on 27th sep and we started off on october 4th.

I cant help but wonder how did you manage to remember the dates 12 years before.

Anonymous said...

Trust me, if you spend six months after your boards doing nothing you will remember the dates you started once again. That's been the longest holiday i ever had-and i am not sure i want a repeat. In fact the board results came on may 31st, so even after knowing the results we just hung around for four months. very excruciating

guile said...

nice, comfy place you got here :)..

Shantanu said...

Hey there,
found your blog while I was searching for bloggers from Pune. Brought back some old memories. I used to be an active quizzer during my days at BJMC, this was slightly before the time period you mentioned, I graduated in 1992. I do remember some good battles with Srirang Raddi and teammates from COEP.

Sadly, as with most of us, once we got into residency, our quizzing days were over.


Anonymous said...

Hi !!
This is Maya aka Finest Lady Quizzer!!! All the five reminiscences make nice reading. The sad part is that I only vaguely remember most of them events :-(. Infact re. the gathering quiz that Sancho talks about, I have absolutely no recollection - nil nada . I stopped quizzing completely once I left Pune. So these are just fond unmemories ....

Ramanand said...

Hi Maya,

some of the folks like Anand Sivashankar would like to get in touch with you and your brother. Would it be possible to send one of us an email id? My id is ramanand - gmail.